Southerners are very proud of their heritage.  They like to brag about the “Old South”, teach its greatness to their children, and make references to it often.   

Quick point of clarification:  Southern “heritage” is not the same thing as Southern “history”.  Southerners have selective memory when it comes to their heritage and therefore, it does not include anything that other parts of the country consider bad (i.e. slavery)

2330627542_d68c90a652_m1.jpgBecause Southerners love their heritage, they are interested in tracing back their Southern roots.  In most cases, at least one person in a Southerner’s immediate family has done some serious investigative work into the family tree.  Claims of relation to <insert Confederate war hero here> are often supported by old pictures and/or documents. 

One easy way to make a Southern friend is to ask them to help you trace your family line.  More than likely, they have been through the process themselves and will jump at the chance to display their work.  However, this can sour quickly if they discover you are the descendant of northerners, or worse yet, any race other than white people.

A safer way to show your love for Southern heritage is through clothing items.  There are several companies that produce t-shirts, hats, and even underwear that brandish statements about Southern greatness.  Wearing one or more of these articles will ensure your conformity and may spark a conversation or two.  But, be careful; excessive wear can make you look like trash.

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america_at_home2.jpgSoutherners are in love with America.  They think it is the greatest country that has ever existed.  Most Southerners own several American flags and American flag by-products.  Often times, they will fly a flag proudly from their large front porch or, in some cases, from a flag pole they have erected in their front yard.  

Because Southerners can’t get enough of America, it is obvious that the Fourth of July is one of their favorite holidays.  You can make several Southern friends by attending a fireworks show on the Fourth.  Wear all the red, white and blue you can find and bring alcohol.  

Warning: never criticize America in front of a Southerner.  They will become extremely defensive and may resort to blows.  Instead, complain about the government.  Southerners think the government and America are two separate things.  One is inherently evil and should never be allowed to get too big; the other is God’s country. 

It would be helpful to learn  America’s greatest attributes and begin bringing them up in conversation while amongst a group of Southerners.  After suggesting that it is God’s will for America to rule the world, you will spark a feeding frenzy of America love that will last a good 10 minutes.

Sweet tea (not iced tea) is a very important part of a Southerner’s life.  Every Southern woman knows how to make it and every Southern family keeps a constant supply of it in their refrigerator.  Developing a sweet tea habit is a step in the right direction to integrating yourself into Southern culture.  

Southerners believe that their sweet tea should be served with lots of ice, preferably an entire glass full.  The type of ice used (square cubes v. crushed) is usually inconsequential as long as there is lots of it.  If you make the mistake of serving a Southerner sweet tea without any ice, be prepared for them to kindly ask for some while they silently lose a little respect for you.

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Southerners also like to talk about their sweet tea and believe they are the authority on what good sweet tea should taste like.  After taking a drink of it at a restaurant, they immediately know if it is a good batch or not.  9 times out of 10, everyone at the table will agree that it is not as good as the tea they drink at home.  A short discussion will follow about what needs to be done to make it better, and the requisite Sweet n’ Low will be added (or for the rare healthy Southerner, Splenda).  This is a good opportunity for you to assimilate into Southern conversation. Comments like “too sweet” or “needs sugar” will suffice. 

It is important to note that Southerners prefer their sweet tea to be homemade; they believe that any other type is not real.  However, they are not above drinking a reputable store-bought substitute if absolutely necessary. 

                                                            

Additionally, the South’s affliction with sweet tea does not necessarily carry over to green tea or herbal tea.  These types of teas are known to be tolerated but Southerners have always been wary of them because they seem a little too Asian.  

note:  Southern sweet tea can and should be complemented with lemons but they are not required.